Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers that are hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, instead of using a local server or a personal devices to handle applications. It is a type of computing that completely relies on sharing all the computing resources online in a remote location.

In cloud computing, the word cloud which is also phrased as “the cloud” is used as a symbol for “the Internet” in flowcharts and diagrams. Hence, the phrase cloud computing is termed as a type of Internet-based computing where different services such as servers, storage and applications are all delivered to an organization's computers and other devices through the Internet.

Cloud computing can be termed as the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to the computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).

Examples of cloud computing include online backup services, social networking services, and personal data services such as Apple's MobileMe. It also includes some online applications, such as those offered through Microsoft Online Services. Hardware services affered are like redundant servers, mirrored websites, and Internet-based clusters etc.

Cloud computing characteristics

Cloud computing has four essential characteristics:

  • Ability to deliver infrastructure to expand and the contract automatically based on capacity needs
  • Self-service provisioning and automatic de-provisioning
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • Billing and metering of service usage within a pay-as-you-go model

This flexibility is the main characteristic that is attracting individuals and businesses in order to move to the cloud.

Cloud computing categories:

Cloud computing primarily involves in delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services are broadly divided into three categories:

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): Infrastructure-as-a-Service provides virtual infrastructure to start, stop, access and configure their virtual servers and storage space. In the enterprise, cloud computing allows a company to pay for only as much capacity as is needed, and bring more online as soon as required. Example:

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): Platform-as-a-service in the cloud is defined as a set of software and product development tools that are hosted on the provider's infrastructure where the user can create and run home-grown applications. and GoogleApps are examples of PaaS.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): Here, in this model the vendor will supply the hardware infrastructure, the software product and even interacts with the user through a front-end portal. It provides access to already created applications that are operating in the cloud. SaaS is a very broad market and the end user is free to use the service from anywhere.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

  • User can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time;
  • Service will be fully managed by the provider and the consumer needs nothing only a PC and Internet access
  • Significant innovations in virtualization and distributed computing
  • Improved access to high-speed Internet and a weak economy, have accelerated interest in cloud computing.

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